I joined a Women’s Bible study at church (College Park Church in Indianapolis, http://www.yourchurch.com) titled Intimacy with Jesus. We are reading in Ephesians and I have to say my heart is bursting. I am amazed at the undeserved favor I have been shown by the Lord. After all, isn’t that what grace is? The “unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, affected by the agency of the Holy Spirit” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, 1949, pp. 426-427). Basically, we don’t deserve it but it is an act of God to bestow it upon us. I’ve been meditating on this while I read the Scripture and journal on page and as I write this here. I took this class to challenge myself, just as I started this blog to challenge myself. Herein lies the blessing though, as I challenge myself, I find myself being restored and filled by God, allowing Him to work through me as well as in me. Today in particular, I am rolling this verse around in my head with emphasis on words in the verse I had never thought about before which illuminated God’s truly amazing grace to me. For by grace you (Jaime) are saved, through faith, and that not of yourself: it is a gift from God- nor by works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9; emphasis and parenthesis mine)
Dear friends, do you see that? Do you see? I pray the Lord illuminates this verse to you as you read this and roll it around in your heart of hearts as I am today. This verse just makes me want to shout praise to my God!! YES LORD! It – faith, grace, mercy, salvation – you input one of those words in for that pronoun of it and become truly amazed at God’s action in your life. I had never, ever thought of my faith as a gift of God. We say it all the time, right – my faith, as if we ever owned it to begin with! I am always thanking God for my salvation and the many, many other blessings He has bestowed upon me in my life. It is good to give thanks but thank you Lord for showing me something today, for working in my heart.
Pastor Mark gave a sermon a few weeks ago while in Matthew 12 (we have expository preaching at CPC, we are going through Matthew right now) talking about the heart and the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Of course the entire sermon resonates with me as his usually do and I like to think on them all week and apply them to my life. We need to apply God’s Word to our lives. What good is His Word without application, no? But there was something he said in that sermon in particular that has resonated with me since he said it and I am desperate for the Lord to continue revealing this to me. He (Pastor Mark) talked about how out of the heart come words from the mouth. We all talk about this verse, right? I’ve talked about it with Jeff, with friends, with my sister, etc.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. -Matthew 12:34 (NKJV)
I won’t get into the background of this verse, I challenge you to read the chapter and even listen to Mark’s sermon available at our church’s website so you can get the full explanation of what this verse is speaking on but I want to point out the word abundance to you. How many times do words fall flat on the page and we may just gloss over them thinking yes ok I get it, I speak out of my mouth what comes from my heart. But God says out of the abundance of the heart… what? What does this mean, abundance. As Mark uses the illustration, basically other people are only getting to see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the words that come out of our mouth. This was especially challenging to me, as I work to make every part of my heart more gentle, meek, loving, tender. I pray that the Lord continues to peel back the layers of my heart to reveal to me what is really in my heart. I can feel Him working on me, and I am praising Him. This isn’t easy, folks. I imagine if you search your heart and truly allow God to reveal your true self to you it won’t be easy either, but I am clinging to the promise that He will continue a work in me and see it through until the finish. I am so glad that God is a finisher, not a quitter like me. I am so glad that I have been grafted in, I am rejoicing that I have been given the gift of faith and my eyes have been opened and my ears can hear.
Chris Rice has a song called Life Means So Much, I listen to this song a lot as it reminds me to remember our lives are just vapors, so quickly they are here then gone. I leave you with some lines from this song, as I continue to reflect on God’s Word in my heart I am praying for you dear one that reads this that you will be blessed- not by my words, but by Him working in you. If you haven’t given your heart to the Lord in every way imaginable, and you can hear Him speaking to you to do so, please do not wait. I’d love to hear from you!
Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there’s plenty of room for writing in
All we do is believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessing
Fill the page with rhyming verse
Or some random sketching
Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much
Life means so much
Life means so much